Distribution: Peru to Ecuador
Latin Name: Brotogeris pyrrhoptera
Size: 20cm high, Weight to 70g
Talking Ability: Low
Lifespan: 20-25 years

If you love birds, you’ll discover there’s much to admire in this little fellow.

The Grey-cheeked Parakeet is a species of parrot in the Psittacidae family. Its official title is Brotogeris pyrrhoptera, and it’s sometimes also referred to as a Grey Cheek, a Fire-winged Parakeet or Orange-flanked parakeet. The Grey-cheeked Parakeet is a subtropical or tropical bird, and indigenous to north-western Peru and western Ecuador.

Grey-cheeked Parakeets are named after their very distinctive, and cute, grey cheeks, chin and crown. They are predominantly green in colour, sometimes green-blue, and also have bright orange feathers under their wings (hence their other names), which may be tinged with brown. The bill is horn-coloured. They have flesh-coloured feed, and the eyes are a dark brown.

The younger birds soon grow into the colours they will retain throughout life. They look very much like adults, the only difference being that they may have a slightly duller plumage. Baby grey-cheeked parakeets are born with black or spotty, black beaks. They have these until they are around 6 months old, at which stage they start to turn horn-coloured.

Grey-cheeked parakeets weigh on average 54 to 70g. The average wingspan is 117 mm and length is 20 cm. Their lifespan in captivity averages about 23 years but some have been known to live well into their thirties.

Grey-cheeks are quite affectionate birds, and many like to be held. They do form strong bonds with their owners, and if properly trained, with even more than one family member (which can be quite unusual among birds). At the other extreme, they can become territorial at times with their family. They love to ride around on someone’s shoulder, where they can feel secure and close to their owner.

Above all, they are playful and mischievous. They can learn tricks (such as kissing) and love to play games. They enjoy toys and are especially fond of warm places to hide that will give them a sense of security and privacy. This might be their nesting box but even your pocket can become a firm favourite. You should always be cautious around a Grey-cheek to ensure you don’t sit or crush them as they may snuggle up to you on the lounge for instance, when you least expect it.

Some Grey-cheeks can be well cheeky with larger parrots and even other pets so you should also keep an eye on them around other animals to ensure they don’t get themselves into trouble.

Grey-cheeked parakeets can make a bit of a noise despite their very small frames (especially when excited), but they are only moderately loud on the whole. They can learn to mimic human sounds and talk to some degree. You may be able to teach them a limited vocabulary which they will recite with their gravel-toned voice. Any bad habits such as screaming and biting can be nipped in the bud with some early training.

Care and Health
Grey-cheeked parakeets are relatively easy to care for. Feed them a varied and nutritious diet, including sunflower seeds, raisins and fruits, in particular bananas. And for a special treat, they love ice-cream! It would be worth feeding them a bird pellet with a calcium supplement to complete their balanced diet.

Do ensure your bird has regular checkups, especially when older. Some problems that may occur include sarcoptic mange, which is an itchy skin disorder, chlamydiosis and tuberculosis, which is more common among this species of bird than any other.

Grey-cheeked parakeets are suitable for apartments and houses, families and singles. They will make a colourful, cheeky and loyal addition to any household.

Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.